St Helens are set to be without skipper James Roby when they start their Super League title defence.
The international hooker has had further groin surgery and isn’t expected to be back for the Grand Final repeat against Salford, this time at the Totally Wicked Stadium, on Friday, January 31.
But there is better news on winger Tommy Makinson and backrower Morgan Knowles, who have both had shoulder injuries, and prop Matty Lees, who needed an operation on a perforated bowel.
“Morgan Knowles and Tommy Makinson are really diligent, and they work really hard with their rehab as they do with their footy in general,” said new Saints coach Kristian Woolf.
“Matty Lees has been back in full training since the two weeks before Christmas break.
“A big task with him, with the type of injury he had, is that he was ready to do contact, because he’s a tough fella, but we wanted to give him a chance to recover physically and put some weight back on as well.
“We have probably held him back from things he wanted to do, but he is in full training now.”
Speaking to the St Helens Star, Woolf explained of 34-year-old Roby: “He is coming along how we would like him to.
“He has a little bit of a hiccup in that groin area and needed to get an extra bit of work done in the period before Christmas, but nothing has changed in the timescale of when we expect to see him back.
“He is not likely to start the season, but he will not be too far behind the start either.
“While we would love him to play round one, and all the way to the finals, it will not hurt him in keeping him a bit fresher if he misses a game or two either.”
Woolf and his squad will spend this week training in Tenerife before returning for Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook’s testimonial against London Broncos on Sunday week, January 19, which is their only pre-season match.